Should You Use A Theme Or Custom Build A WordPress Site From Scratch?

As we all know, WordPress is the most commonly used CMS (content management system) on the internet. Nearly 23.5% of top websites today are powered by WordPress along with 48% overall marketshare among CMS. Ideally, there are basically two types of WordPress websites. There’s themed sites that install a pre-built theme and then there’s custom made themes that start from scratch.

Themed WordPress Websites

Most WordPress websites uses pre-built themes. These websites come pre-packaged with a free or premium themes already built. They also often come with pre-determined plugins to help the theme function and provide the functionality build by the theme. They also usually come with a custom interface or an easy do it yourself builder known as a WYSIWYG editor for your posts and pages.

Custom Built WordPress Sites

These are sites that take a basic theme (or design frameworks) that has nothing in it such as Bones or Underscore and they build the entire website from scratch. All of the functionality has to be done according to actual requirement and nothing comes before work begins on a custom WordPress site.

Which Option Is Best For You

First things first, you have to determine the basic needs of your site and what you hope it accomplishes. Are you just trying to get a basic company page up or are you trying to launch an entire store with lots of features? Is your website elaborate or is it just a quick few simple pages? The most important aspect is your budget. Can you afford to hire a company to build a theme for you? Or, do you even have the time to develop the theme yourself? Let’s go over some pros and cons of pre-built theme and custom designed themes.

Pros & Cons of Pre-Built Themes


  • It’s relatively inexpensive as most WordPress themes are around the $40 price range. There are many premium quality themes available for free as well! If you’re worried about the cost, then a theme is definitely a cheap and easy solution to get a website up and going.
  • Design for most niches are readily available today as WordPress is a very popular platform. You can design a law website, a real estate directory, and what not!
  • It’s great for people with a lack of experience in coding. You don’t need any kind of coding knowledge what so ever with a pre-built theme. They come with all the tools to help you get started with a few simple clicks.
  • Most themes are updated regularly by their authors. This is important because the number one cause of being hacked on WordPress, right next to low strength passwords is having out of date themes and plugins. Most pre-built themes eliminate this worry but make sure that the author of the theme is active before purchasing it.


  • Pre-built themes often come loaded with a lot of plugins, CSS and JS files. This is a problem because they add a lot of load time to websites and WordPress already comes with a load time with all the php files and everything on the backend. Not only that but not all of these plugins are updated regularly. You have to manually update all of these plugins and leaving them outdated leaves your site at risk for being hacked. There are certain theme developers who also focus on developing high speed themes.
  • Pre-built themes are also horrendous for SEO. With all of the unnecessary plugins and code that often comes with themes, they take longer than custom built websites to load and the file sizes of the pages involved are usually a lot larger. Pre-built themes are notoriously bad for SEO, so if you’re trying to target some medium to high competition keywords, you’re far better off with a custom built theme.
  • Pre-built themes often come with annoying sliders and sometime with unnecessary clutter. There’s so many sources out there that explain why sliders are a bad thing but people won’t stop designing or using them. On a WordPress site, sliders are even more tedious.
  • You still need to customize it according to your requirement. Which may include setting up menu to upload demo data and much more.
  • Nonexclusive designs meaning, there can be 5 or 10 or even 10,000 sites with exactly same design depending on theme’s popularity. Sometime they can be with minor design customization depending on theme’s flexibility to customize but still there will be sites similar to yours if you use pre-built themes.

Pros & Cons of Custom Built Themes


  • Exclusive design meaning there will be no site just like yours on Internet since it will be designed from scratch according to your requirement. Not just design but the backend and frontend features can be exclusive to your site only.
  • Custom built themes have far more attention to detail put into them and the source code is far less messy than pre-built themes. A lot of unnecessary code means file sizes will be larger and there’s a bigger stress on the server to load everything. This however isn’t case with all the designers though. Some WordPress developers may not focus on this aspect and make site’s theme heavy so you may need to particularly ask them to take care of it.
  • Most importantly, custom built themes usually don’t involve a unnecessary plugins, CSS or JS as functionality is custom built as well.


  • Custom built themes can cost thousands of dollars. Some WordPress developers don’t come with a cheap price tag and it’s not uncommon for a custom theme to cost up to $10,000 or more for a 5-10 page website.
  • Custom built WordPress sites can be a little more confusing for inexperienced owners and users. Everything put into a page needs to be done as a custom post type so that clients are able to edit every piece of content in a page.
  • You may still need to provide initial Wireframe or layouts ideas to your designers. If you don’t provide instructions properly, they may end up designing something which you don’t need.

In conclusion, your needs and your budget ultimately depends on what kind of WordPress site you should get and if you should get it custom made or pre-packaged in a theme.